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Conservatives Are Conservatives, Not Moderates



The other day I saw a post Common Dreams ran by Norman Solomon, Neera Tanden and Antony Blinken Personify the 'Moderate' Rot at the Top of the Democratic Party. Norman knows better than to call an establishment conservative fighting for the status quo-- or in this case, the status quo ante-- a "moderate." The right-wing, Republican wing, of the Democratic is not "moderate," while the popular progressive ideas they seek to pulverize are moderate. And, indeed, Norman starts by asking "What's so moderate about being on the take from rich beneficiaries of corporate America while opposing proposals that would curb their profits in order to reduce income inequality and advance social justice?" It would have been tough for Biden to find anyone worse and more beholden to the plutocracy than Tanden to oversee the U.S. budget.

Newsweek ran an OpEd by Isaac Bailey, an author and professor of public policy at Davidson College. He began by talking about a specific and very aggressive treatment he got for a sudden auto-immune condition-- IVIG-- that nearly killed him. I felt his pain. I went through the same treatment after cancer treatments and a stem cell replacement operation. His point was that sometimes when you are really in big trouble, you need super-aggressive treatment rather than "moderate" treatment. I figured out exactly where he was going immediately. He wrote that "our democracy has gotten sicker and sicker, in large part because one of our two major political parties has gone crazy. Half-measures now will not return our democracy to a healthy state. Moderation in the face of extremism means extremism wins. It's akin to trying to reason with a toddler in the middle of a tantrum. It's impossible; order has been restored. And even if you believe the election of moderate Joe Biden is a return to order, if you do not undo the damage caused by the tantrum, the extremism that resulted from the tantrum becomes the new norm. In 2016, we elected a narcissistic conspiracy theorist who had spent the previous five years spreading the bigoted lie that the nation's first Black president wasn't really American. Tens of millions of Americans looked at that and said he should lead us. During his term in office, he revealed himself to be even more bigoted and incompetent, and only concerned about himself-- and even more Americans voted for him to have a second term in office than had voted for him the first time. Those kinds of things don't happen in a healthy country."

As you know, Trump is a symptom of a far worse rot that needs to be dealt with aggressively. He brought up Michigan: "Armed men and women temporarily shut down the Michigan legislature because of COVID restrictions. Others allegedly planned to kidnap Michigan's governor. And still other armed men and women went to the house of the secretary of state to demand that the election results be overturned." And, obviously that was just a snapshot of the ugliness pervading our country:


A dozen and a half Republican-led states, led by Texas, tried to nullify the votes of millions of Americans in four states that Trump lost in November. The Republican president has literally been calling on officials in various states to overturn the election results-- even summoning a few of them to the White House to chat about it. The two Republican senators facing runoff elections in Georgia are supporting the president and those Republican attorneys general-- and might be elected to the Senate anyway.
Kyle Rittenhouse has become a hero on the Right during an era in which white domestic terrorism is considered by some to be a bigger threat than ISIS or al-Qaeda. The Republican Party broke every political tradition to steal a Supreme Court seat from a Democratic president in 2016, and four years later virtually locked in a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for a generation.
A significant chunk of the American public shrugs as upwards of 3,000 of our fellow citizens are killed a day by a virus Donald Trump once suggested could be cured by injecting Lysol inside people's bodies.
We are sick. If a country could be diagnosed with cancer, we'd likely be in Stage 3 or Stage 4. Moderation is the wrong move by the Democratic Party during the Biden era that is soon to commence.
...I'm not a hard leftist. My voting record, which has included Democrats, Republicans and independents up and down the ticket, would horrify those on the hard Left, just as they use to horrify me. But that was when this country was healthier. As my body grew stronger, doctors pulled back on my treatment. They became less aggressive-- more moderate-- by the month until I didn't need any treatment at all anymore.
That's how it should be. Moderation is designed to stabilize a thing and uphold the status quo. That's the last thing we need in a country as sick as ours. The hard Left can provide the aggressive treatment we need on issues such as real policing, immigration, and health care reform. The hard Left can help us achieve pay equality and a living wage in a country that is suffering from the longest bread lines and shoplifting for baby food it has seen in decades. The Left provides an urgency we desperately need because it hates the status quo, and is willing to risk making things worse in the short term to produce a better future.
Obama's moderate approach led to significant accomplishments and the most progressive presidency in a generation. But that was when the GOP was semi-sane. He could have gotten even more done had he listened to the Left sooner. Biden better listen to them now.

Biden won't, not when it comes to bread and butter issues. He's been a neo-conservative for his entire career, wedded to an ugly policy agenda which should have precluded his nomination. And now he's president-- and unlikely to change much. So far, Biden's cabinet sucks. There are a couple of decent exceptions but... they are exceptions. Even the one being ballyhooed loudest by progressives in Congress, Deb Haaland, is just OK, progressivish than a kicker-ass movement progressive like Ilhan or Rashida. She was the chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party, a liberal in the establishment. Better than Biden's other picks. Her ProgressivePunch score is a solid "B." A "B" is OK but it takes an "A" to balance garbage like Neera Tanden. It would take 10 "A"s. And I doubt we'll wind up with one. Deb's crucial vote score is 88.24. Andy Levin isn't exactly a communist; neither is Jamie Raskin. Their scores are, respectively 100 and 99.13. Jimmy Gomez was seriously challenged for reelection from the left, regardless of the fact that he has an excellent voting record (96.59). Also in California, Linda Sanchez, Karen Bass, Jared Huffman and Grace Napolitano are thought of as solid moderates (in the best sense of the word) and their scores are, respectively 94.7, 94.04, 93.27 and 92.47-- all "A"s.

Still, Jennifer Bendery found something possibly worth celebrating in Biden's plans-- although I won't be popping any champagne bottles 'til I see them in action. Biden, she wrote, "is signaling that he’s ready to move quickly with nominating judges once he’s sworn into office. And he specifically wants Democratic senators to recommend nominees to him who are diverse, not just in terms of race or gender, but professionally-- something progressives have been clamoring for for years. In a letter obtained by HuffPost, Biden’s incoming White House counsel Dana Remus tells Democratic senators to try to find public defenders and civil rights attorneys in their states who they think would be a good fit for a federal judgeship. 'With respect to U.S. District Court positions, we are particularly focused on nominating individuals whose legal experiences have been historically underrepresented on the federal bench, including those who are public defenders, civil rights and legal aid attorneys, and those who represent Americans in every walk of life,' reads the Dec. 22 letter."